Forward Today in 2022: ChurchNext

Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors.

We’re wrapping up the year by featuring our favorite or most popular messages of 2022. Today’s “Top 5” post comes from Liz Brignac, ChurchNext Course Designer.

I have learned so much from all of the courses we launched this year, but I think these five are the ones that can make the most difference in the world. If everyone took these five classes and lived according to what they teach, the world would truly change for the better.

Becoming Beloved Community: Understanding Systemic Racism with Ivy Forsythe-Brown and Tom Ferguson
This free course might be the course I’m most proud of, not just this year, but in all my years at ChurchNext because of its import and its quality and how many people came together to make it the class it is. Ivy and Tom have so much to teach us about how systemic racism operates and in particular about The Episcopal Church’s history with systemic racism in the U.S. If you aren’t an expert on this issue already, you will come out knowing a lot more than you did going in. You’ll also find clear steps on how to learn more and what to do next. Thanks again to the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Officers’ Advisory Council on Becoming Beloved Community and the Diocese of Michigan for funding this course.

Christians and Climate Change with Bill McKibben
It was a privilege to work on this course with Bill McKibben, one of the first people to bring the severity of the climate change problem to public attention in the 1990s. Bill explains why, among all the issues pushing for our attention today, Christians and citizens most need to pay attention to climate change. We always hear how it can’t wait. Bill explains the urgency. We may feel it’s too big for us. Bill explains clearly and succinctly why we can make a difference and the most useful things we can do. My priorities changed because of Bill’s class, and I highly recommend it.

Gleaning Today: Conserving Food for Hungry People with Michael Binger
I like this course because it teaches about an incredibly practical and efficient way to be useful in any community. Michael Binger shows how, if you want to pack in a lot of value for your time, it’s hard to beat gleaning. Concerned about hungry people? Gleaning feeds them. Concerned about the massive waste inherent in the U.S. food production system? Gleaning conserves food that would otherwise rot. Interested in helping people become healthy as well as in feeding them? Gleaning offers them nutrition, not just calories. Want to build community with others? Spend time in a field picking sweet potatoes with them. This class delivers solid information about an efficient way to do a lot of good in the world.

Grace and Depression with Rob Hirschfeld
It can be hard for people – particularly those in positions of leadership – to be open about experiences with depression. The more often leaders like Episcopal Bishop Rob Hirschfeld speak and write openly about seeking help, the less stigma people with depression face. If we get cancer or break a leg, most of us don’t hesitate to go to the doctor. But if our brain chemistry becomes misaligned, we may resist getting help – in part because the disease itself impairs our judgment, convinces us that seeking help for this problem is a weakness. If everyone who had depression took Rob’s class and heeded his words, more people who need help would seek it.

Introducing Christian Vegetarianism with Steve Kaufman
As a non-vegetarian, I was surprised to find this class applicable to my own experience as well as to those who are inclined toward full vegetarianism. Steve Kaufman does not judge people who eat meat, nor does he suggest pure vegetarianism is the only way to live. Instead, he offers practical reasons why people might try eating less meat – with the possible goal of eventually reducing meat consumption to nothing. Some of his reasons are moral; some biblical; some environmental. All are interesting. Steve’s class encourages an approach to food that vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will find enlightening.

You can always check out our full library of courses at

Yours faithfully,

Liz Brignac
ChurchNext Course Designer